Mariyinsky Park and Palace
Located along the charming Dnieper River, Mariyinsky Park is an acknowledged masterpiece of landscape art, and one of the oldest and the most beautiful parks of Ukraine. For one and a half centuries, it has remained a favored relaxation spot for both locals and tourists. Its charm is not only its amazing landscape, but also the wonderfully cozy and harmonious atmosphere, ideal for leisurely strolls. This aura is created with ancient linden and chestnut trees, which frame its numerous alleys.
Striking with its beauty and extravagance, the Mariyinsky Palace, built in the middle of the 18th century as a temporary residence for Empress Elizabeth, is rightfully considered to be the park’s true gem. Elizabeth’s favorite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, designed the baroque style palace. But Elizabeth never managed to visit her Kyivan residence, so the palace’s first resident became Katherine II.
In the early 19th century, a fire destroyed the building’s second floor and all the ballrooms. Fifty years later, the palace was rebuilt for the arrival of the Tsar Alexander II and his wife Maria. Its name also changed to Mariyinsky (Maria's), in honor of the Empress. Today, the palace is a ceremonial place of residence for the Ukrainian President, where he receives high-ranked foreign dignitaries.
Near the palace stands an observation deck. Breathtaking views of the Dnieper and Kyiv’s left bank open up from the deck. Behind the palace is the ‘Dynamo’ stadium, where the city’s football team plays. Not far from the palace is also the most romantic place in the park - the Sweethearts Bridge. Many legends and mysteries have been told about it. Walking through the park, couples young and old try to leave a sign to symbolize their love and fidelity to each other.
The park contains several other points of interest. There is a puppet theater, which appears to have come down from the pages of a fairy-tale book; a unique cast-iron fountain, which is over a hundred years old; and the People’s Friendship Arch, which symbolizes the union between Russians and Ukrainians. There is also another observation deck, from which you can enjoy fantastic panoramas of the capital.
One of the most unusual landmarks in Kyiv, the Museum of Water, is also situated in the park; it is inside the old water tower building. Its original collection deals with water circulation in nature. Going under ground, one can take a ‘tour’ around the continents: see how glaciers melt and geysers erupt, visit a cave with stalactites, and much more. At other parts of the museum, you may find yourself in a real thunderstorm or inside a huge soap bubble!
Getting here: The closest subway stations to the park are ‘Maidan Nezalezhnosti’ (go in direction of the European square) and ‘Arsenalnaya’.